Saddle up at Camp Richardson Corral |

Saddle up at Camp Richardson Corral

Jack Barnwell
Camp Richardson Corral pony guide Katie Wheatfill leads Cognac, a 23-year-old retired horse, to be prepared for a pony ride.
Jack Barnwell / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

After an hour-long horse ride through the forest, the six members of the Linebach family walked into the Camp Richardson Corral on Emerald Bay Road.

“It was a perfect pace for everyone,” said Laura Linebach, an experienced rider, after dismounting.

She, her son Sean, daughter-in-law Anastasia and granddaughters Gretta, Lily and Georgia had all taken a ride.

At Camp Richardson Corral, it’s pretty much a day in the life of a hoof beat, according to owners Quint and Kelly Ross.

“They are looking for a unique experience and a different way to look at the scenery,” Kelly said. “Horseback riding is an authentic experience in the basin. It’s a new perspective.”

Camp Richardson offers guided trail rides through forest and meadows with the goal of getting a look at the lake, including extended half-day rides near Fallen Leaf Lake and Tahoe Mountain for a panoramic view of Lake Tahoe, wagon rides, steak rides and retired-horse rides for children 5 years old and younger.

“People come out here, see the big animals and just love to love on them,” Quint said. “They build relationship within the hour that they are riding. It’s a good campfire story for them later in life.”

Kelly said some practical standards apply. People who go on guided tours and extended rides must be at least 6 years old and weigh no more than 225 pounds for safety of the horse and the rider.

She added that’s where the wagon rides come in.

Historically, the corral has done pack trips into Desolation Wilderness, but that remains on hold.

“Right now, we’re in the middle of a Forest Service study for the mountains,” Quint said. “Hopefully we can get that fine tuned so we can get going next season.”

Family history keeps on riding

The horse rides have been part of the business’s history since 1934, when Quint’s grandfather Allen Ross founded Camp Richardson Corral.

“The folks that had Camp Richardson Resort here asked my grandfather to do horseback riding,” Quint said. In 1934, the corral was located down the road where the Renaissance Fair is now held. After the Forest Service purchased the land in the 1967, the corral moved to its current location.

The business recently celebrated its 81st anniversary and renewed its special use permit with the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit for another 20 years.

“That will get us through a 100-year run,” Quint said.

Some things have remained the same in the last 81 years.

“For the most part the gear we use is basically the same that my grandfather used,” Quint said.

Other things have changed with the times.

“Back in the day it was, ‘Here’s some horses, be kind and enjoy yourself,’” Quint said.

In the 1960s, the corral changed to a guided-tour model, partly due to liability and partly because of the changing times.

“As we get into the age we are in now, people don’t know the horses they knew then, so it’s a learning curve for folks,” Quint said. “Back in the day, it was common sense, and now it’s a whole new agenda.”

Kelly and Quint said everything boils down to family and desire to break the stereotype of the dirty, grungy stable with skinny horses.

“The horses are part of our family,” Quint said. “We keep the stables clean and green and horses fat and happy.”

Many of the horses stabled at the corral are rescued animals, something Kelly, who worked 12 years as a veterinarian, said benefits both the business and the horses.

The guides and workers all have experience handling horses, with new ones receiving weeks of hands-on training.

Quint said the business has had its own lasting imprints on other people as well.

“This is a very fun, rewarding business,” Quint said. “We have fourth- and fifth-generation folks coming back where I have people telling me they were here as a kid.”

The main office has an Old West feel to it, scattered with photos of the business’s history and early rides, memorabilia and horse equipment. It also holds jousting equipment, a pastime Quint has engaged in for 17 years.

“I was born and raised here so there’s a lot of childhood memories,” Quint said. “I got a picture of when I was 6 years old on a horse. This is a good living.”

It’s a tradition the Rosses hope to continue for their children.

“To have this for our children to be raised here is amazing,” Kelly said. “Hopefully they will get to be part of it when the corral reaches 100 years.”

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